The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has said the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has started treating the people in the informal sector with heavy handedness reminiscent of the Robert Mugabe era, despite claiming to be a new government of the people.
The labour body said most appalling is the way it is using the police to crush the vendors ostensibly to stop the spread of cholera.
“While the ZCTU acknowledges the threat of cholera to the populace, the solution does not lie in chasing people, beating them and taking their goodies. It must be remembered that these are breadwinners trying to eke out a living because of the high unemployment levels in the country.
“The government must accept the fact that the informal economy has become the biggest employer in the country and therefore it needs to be carefully handled.. Even the International Labour organisation (ILO) has acknowledged the importance of the informal economy,” said Peter Mutasa, the ZCTU President.
The people in the informal sector pay rentals, rates school fees and various taxes and if their source of income is stopped, they would not be able to do so.
ZCTU warned of a possibility of increased criminality as some vendors turn to illegal activities to survive and said the solution is to sit down with them and chart the way forward.
ZCTU said while the new administration is clearly neoliberal and pro-business, in its eagerness to please business, it is the down-trodden that suffer.
“The “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra is nothing, but the introduction of the much abhorred structural adjustment programme. Already there is talk of amending the Labour Act for what they are calling “ease of doing business”, but labour is aware that they are trying to make it easier for employers to hire and fire, in fact, it is clear that Decent Work will be under immense attack.
“Even a glance at the recently announced Cabinet, it is clear that it is capitalistic and neoliberal and therefore ordinary Zimbabweans must brace themselves for really difficult times as the Cabinet implements imposed anti-worker and anti poor policies. Clearly the poor are on their own as government and business interests converge. Workers, students, the unemployed, informal sector players, the poor in general must unite and demand a fair deal.”
The ZCTU promised to continue to fight for social justice at the workplace, including in the informal economy.
“We call upon all Zimbabweans to unite and reject another dangerous and destructive ESAP experiment. We therefore call upon the Government and Municipalities to immediately halt the operation against informal economy workers and convene an all stakeholders dialogue platform. This is the only way to effectively address the purported cholera challenges.”